Frostblood by Elly Blake (ARC review)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Frostblood by Elly Blake
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Publication Date: January 10th, 2017
Pages: 384
Song I Played While Reading: True Disaster by Tove Lo
Rating: 4 stars

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frost blood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when rebel frost bloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby's powers are unpredictable, and she's not sure she's willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. Before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to fight for her life in tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one change to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love. 

It took me a little while to get into this story. Blake had her work cut out for her, because she had a lot she had to cram into this first book, so the beginning seemed to get the least amount of work and page time. Not to say it wasn't good or anything, but it felt a little as if Ruby was telling us that these things were happening, not that she was feeling them. But that quickly changed, and by the 70 page mark, when things start rolling into motion, I was easing comfortably into the story.
The first thing that pleasantly surprised me was Ruby. She was a god damn sass-master. And there's literally nothing I love more than witty banter, which is where Arcus slyly came in, and basically,  I was a ball of mush whenever these two were together. But not only was Ruby funny, she was incredibly easy to relate to. Even though her issues were on a much larger scale than I can (obviously) fully understand, her struggles with morality, death, and revenge were written eloquently enough that I felt like I knew her, so I could understand, on a certain level, what she was going through. I love it when I hit that level with a character, because that's when the whole story really clicks for me. I'm an extremely character-driven reader, so understanding the person I'm reading from is vital.
The plot was rich with intrigue and history, pulling in elements that I never saw coming, heightening my entire experience. Arcus, Brother Thistle, the king, Marella, and the other secondary characters were tenacious, holding their own in this fast-paced story. However, they weren't an incredibly diverse bunch. There was one instance where I noted Ruby mentioning that a character had "skin darker than her own," which could mean he was dark-skinned, but it's vague enough where I still don't really know.
Overall, this was an incredible debut! With its articulate writing, vivid story, and refreshing characters, Frostblood is sure to become an instant favorite for any fantasy lover.

"King Rasmus still honors the god of the north wind," Brother Thistle replied. "He wouldn't risk angering Fors by harming his devotees."
I shifted in my seat so I faced Arcus. "And how do you supposed I'll manage to kill the most powerful king in our history?"
"He is not the most powerful king in our history." Arcus retorted. "Ruthlessness is not power. Tyranny is not strength."

"Promise you won't leave again," said Brother Thistle softly. "And then we can discuss what you want to know."
I shrugged. "Tell me everything you're planning and then I'll decide."
Ice cracked over the floor from Arcus's chair.
"Is that his version of a tantrum?" I asked Brother Thistle."

"Once again, all doubt, all sense of right and wrong, faded. There was only the target, his darkly beating heart, and my fire. There was no fear, no anger, no shame, no regret. Just power, surging thorough me, filling me. It felt as if my breath sucked the very air from the heavens, and my rage burned the sun to ash.  I was everything and nothing, and no one could stop me. I was darkness wreathed in flesh.

"You speak as if I'm as heavy as an ox," I said. "Last week I was a bundle of sticks."
"You're still too thin."
"Perhaps if I gain more weight, you won't call me a stick anymore."
"You may hope to one day be a branch."

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